Go Travel Hawkesbury: A Sweet Story in a Time of Discontent
East Coast of USA
Newport News, Virginia (USA) is suburbia, big time -- bigger than Sydney's West.
However, in the early 1900s, dignified two storey weatherboard cottages lined the banks of the riverfront. These were big homes owned by senior managers employed by the nearby shipbuilding facility. Neighbourhoods for the workers – welders, carpenters, iron workers – spread around this major East Coast shipyard. The little town grew immensely during the years of World War II. But wars end and governments find new enemies in a ‘space war’.
In nearby Hampton– an historic village dating back to 1607, NASA Langley Research Centre today employs some 18,000 people. Engineers and astronauts are paid well; want good schools for their kids and big churches for their religions. Affluent neighbourhoods rise out of farmlands and heavily treed acreage. Bordered by the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, the Hampton Roads area grows into massive suburb – homes, universities, hospitals, mega churches, strip malls, and a thriving new Newport News upmarket shopping and dining district.
On a heavily trafficked street amidst the Newport News nondescript sprawl sits an orthopeadic clinic where injured joints – hips, knees, shoulders, ankles – achingly find their way here – Hampton Orthopaedic and Sports Clinic. Now, to ‘the surgeon who loves people’.
On a warm summer evening in early September, I attended a most unusual affair – an ‘open house’ thrown by surgeon Dr. Anthony Carter in the dramatic Newport News (Virginia) Maritime Museum. Some 500 of us (patients) showed up for the event – a dinner party and a celebration of the unusual surgical work of he does. http://www.hrosm.com/dr-anthony-carter-reaches-mile-stone/
Contrary to proper doctor-patient etiquette at social events, the good surgeon wanted to engage with people about their medical progress. My opening gambit:‘I flew in from Sydney for your party’ seemed an appropriate way to approach him. However, a touch of innocence and wide-eyed disbelief rose to the surgeon’s eyes. (I was one among the hundreds of patient surgeries he performs annually and recognition of me was certainly unlikely).
Heat rushed to my face. I had trampled over the social taboo of monopolizing a surgeon with tales of my recuperation. 'I came for my annual checkup after knee surgery September 2015 and your party was the same day'. (I had not flown in from another continent for a social event.) After a minute of painful small talk, I backed away, melting into the crowd now gathering.
An open bar and fantastic riffs by a local guitarist soon mellowed the huge crowd. We, each patient wore a name-tag with a brief explanation of ‘our surgeries’: jiffy hip or hips if you had had a double. Jiffy knee: full or partial, if you were in that surgical category. Gradually, over a glass of wine or an ice-cold beer, patients of every skin colour mingled, peering at the name-tag stuck to your chest. At large tables and over dinner, folks began to share their medical stories and speak of their appreciation to Dr. Carter. Name tags and surgery identifiers were a great ice-breaker for such a large crowd.
Patients gathered around Dr. Carter. With a beer in hand, dressed in jeans and runners, his face lit up as each patient approached him. ‘Selfies’ with the good doctor were the order of the night along with generous helpings of pulled pork (barbeque – southern style) and chocolate brownies!
Mid-way through the evening, Dr. Carter, with microphone in hand, welcomed the crowd – he seems to be a shy man but the love he feels for his surgical work – giving people back their mobility – shone through. And the appreciation and love patients felt for this man were obvious. Admid applause, laughter and cheers -- patients were happy to be here.
So why do I feel this 'byte of observation' is worthy of a full blog? In a big country and a southern state embroilled and riled up with a maniacal Trump, where open-carry laws (guns) are more important than Sandy Hook children’s lives and where people of colour must rush to the streets in Charlotte North Carolina to proclaim what should be obvious and of concern to all of us – Black Lives Do Matter. . .
We need a sweet story for a change.
From the Outer Banks of North Carolina, see you in a few weeks back in beautiful Oz...
Artists and artisans move to the Hawkesbury to find peace, quiet and inspiration. In the Hawkesbury, space, light and heat are unique - the muse for much artistic endeavour.
Collectively, the group hosts a studio-trail weekend twice a year allowing art and artisans lovers to meet the artists in their unique environment. This is a marvellous way to see art by regional artists and artisans who are hidden away in rural Hawkesbury.